The Villain viewpoint

Image by Mike Holdsworth

Image by Mike Holdsworth

By Simon King

Imagine my surprise, after six months since being knocked out of the League Cup semi-finals to Bradford at Villa Park, a Bradford fan moves next door to me, a Villa fan…in London.

I’ve turned down numerous offers to attend games: Crawley, MK Dons, Leyton Orient and most recently a trip to The New Den (having been there with Villa and seen us knocked out the FA cup I didn’t think I’d be a lucky omen). Last Friday the phone kept buzzing with texts: his missus had bailed out, did I fancy it? As I was searching online for the ticket price he caught me off guard and called: what time are we leaving?

Having watched Villa for almost 25 years it’s hard to muster support for another team, but when I woke up on Saturday I was feeling rather excited at the prospect. Rob’s Dad was down and I’d tipped them off that the White Horse, Sloney Pony to its locals, in Parson’s Green, was a decent pub to meet their mates who were on there way on the 8am train.

The pub was already full and it seemed that the Bradford fans had heard it was the place to be. We left early to soak up the atmosphere, on the way there we joked about the odds offered for Bradford to win and I patronisingly mentioned it would be nice if you could score a goal.

The Police, in their wisdom, decided to have a go at cramming 6,000 football supporters down an alleyway no wider than your average residential driveway, which could have turned nasty, but before we knew it we were through and the excitement of climbing steps, peeking through the walkway to see the pitch…and finding a toilet.

Lets face it, anyone with six away fans at Stamford Bridge can out sing Chelsea – having 6,000 you virtually own it. The Female PC who had been sent to do what the stewards couldn’t and get people to sit down appeared to be a Bradford Fan, she wore a badge and sang the words to ‘Midland Road’.

A wall of noise greeted the teams and I was starting feel the pressure, sod it, I’m here now I may as well get into it. I sang along and swore, as I usually do, at Drogba’s attempts to convince the ref he’d been shot by a lone gunman from the roof of the Mathew Harding Stand. Two goals down but strangely not over run, just silly goals, I think I saw Filipe Morais trying to motivate people on the way back to the centre circle and thinking “you’ll do for me”.

We were directly behind Jon Stead as he hit that ball into the net and chaos ensued. The female PC made a sharp exit, aware that 20 drunken blokes would now want to send their wives selfies with a singing Bradford copper.

Right place right time for Morais after the ball gets cleared from the box, calmness personified 2-2. Wouldn’t a replay be great, if only we could hang on.

There’s Stead again holding the ball up while a racing Andy Halliday smashes it the top corner, I’m kissing people, I’ve lost Rob and his Dad looks at me like I’ve turned into an Umpa Lumpa, there’s a guy on the floor with his head in his heads praying.

Seven minutes! Is he taking the mick? Here we go, any second now they’ll snatch a draw. The goal that sealed it was, as a dismal TV programme is named, Made in Chelsea. A goal Mourinho would be proud of.

When Mark Yeates took that ball towards the flag it seemed like he was about to try and run down the clock, he then clipped the ball with the outside of his right foot to Stead who seemed to have enough time to make a brew and invite three Chelsea players to stand and watch him do it. Then back to Yeates to guide the ball home.

A guy came up to me on the final whistle telling me how the previous week he’d been to Yeovil and what a difference it had been. I confessed that I was a Villa fan and after he told me that “we f**ked you over un all”. I told him I was one of you today, how I’d never seen scenes like it, and how he should be proud, he virtually licked my face with a slobbering kiss.

We’ve all had to fight to keep our kids loyal to club we were brought up on, but days like this help. I saw one little boy with the widest smile being lifted up by his Dad – it reminded me what football is meant to be like.

Down to earth with a bump, I called my missus (I should know better, she hates football) “You’ll never guess what” I said. “What, did Barnsley win?”

Categories: Opinion

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8 replies

  1. To be honest, this article is a first for WOAP. In the past, I have enjoyed most articles, appreciated the match reports, disagreed with some – but accepted the validity of the opinions set forward. But until reading this I have never actually been annoyed.
    As a non-season ticket holding, non away priority card holding London based fan, I accepted that it was extremely unlikely that I would ever get a ticket for the Chelsea game. Even with the farce that was the way City managed to organise the ticket sales, which managed to exclude many of my mates who did hold season tickets, away priority and Millwall stubs. Even though it seemed unfair that a stub from the away fixture at Millwall didn’t count, I was still content. Why? because i could console myself that the 6000 who were there were all City fans out to see (what turned out to be) one of the greatest days in the club history.
    Now to find that any of the tickets went to a non City fan and for the story to be put on WOAP, I find, frankly galling. Especially as it is someone who cheerfully admits to passing up opportunities to see city at 4 away games that I had bothered to go to “Crawley, MK Dons, Leyton Orient and most recently a trip to The New Den”, his attendance at which would not have deprived any genuine City fans of the opportunity.
    I wonder how he would have felt to find out that he missed a ticket to see Villa in a game of some significance, and then found out that tickets had gone to fans of some other club.
    It would have been nice to see some self awareness in this article; an apology would not have gone amiss.

    • Firstly the ticket was offered to other Bradford fans known to the family late on Friday, when his wife decided she couldn’t go, he didn’t want to take the ticket to the ground in case he couldn’t sell it.

      Why, when I’m strugging with the enthusisam to watch my own club, would I wish to go and watch Crawley?

      If a non-Villa fan had been able to get a ticket to a game good luck to them, it wouldn’t bother me.

      As a semi-regular to away games I always find spares come up somewhere, in fact I’m off to Arsenal tomorrow, if one becomes available I’ll let you know, I’ll buy you a beer, it might take the edge off your bitterness.

      I’m sorry you couldn’t make the game.

      • Glad you enjoyed the game Simon, perhaps you might even be interested in a trip to Crawley next time round! Certainly a better chance of seeing a few goals than watching Villa at the minute.

        I knew as soon as I saw this that it would cause a bit of a stir with some fans – you may not be aware but there was a huge to do over the way tickets had been prioritised by the club. Had this ticket been bought on your behalf when they initially went on sale then their annoyance would be more than justified. However, a late drop out is a bit different and unfortunate for your friend.

        It’s a shame that so many City fans missed the game but even if this ticket had gone to a City fan there still would have been thousands more that missed out.

      • Simon – I’m glad you enjoyed the game and even more pleased you took the time to write about your experiences so elequently. Tickets will always be contentious issue for games such as these – there will be always people who missed out like I did. I consoled my self with betting £10 on a Bradford City win to net £150! My only mistake was to put a separate bet on McArdle to score, banking on a snatched goal from a set piece. Had I known that City were rolling out the tiki tikka I’d chosen someone else….!

  2. I enjoyed reading this article, thank you, and please ignore those bitter that they couldn’t get tickets

  3. Thanks for the positive posts, I’m fully aware that, in incidents like this, supply will outstrip demand, and I’m genuinely sorry that not everyone could get a ticket for the game. I’m sure that, given more time, he would have been able to get a Bradford Fan to the game.

    On a positive note I’m a member on Heroes and Villains, an online Villa Fanzine and run an official AVFC supporters Club in London and I’ve done nothing but wax lyrical about your support last week and what it meant to a club like yours, I’d also say that not one person (despite being battered by you last time) had a bad word to say about your progress.

    Good Luck.

  4. Couldnt care what a villa fan thinks, fair enough you got a ticket because your friend couldnt find anyone else but to post your story on hear rubs salt into the wounds to those who could not attend, who would have gone to games that you rejected because those were not a big enough draw to you. WOAP should have known better than to publish this, its disrespectful to those loyal city fans who could not get a ticket.

    • Hi Steve

      As ever we can’t keep everyone happy, and though this article has upset a couple it seems to have been well received by the majority.


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